Category: Home Office & Productivity

Tech Privacy Settings to Change Now

tech privacy settings

The constant invasion of my privacy by devices, apps and websites I use is driving me crazy. Wrinkle remedies, an incessant jingle begging me to donate my car to Kars4Kids, and a reminder that Alzheimer’s may be just around the corner are just a few unwanted “messages” I’m subjected to every day. It may be too late, but I’m going to follow the advice in “The Default Tech Settings You Should Turn Off Right Away,” by the New York Times. It’s attached below. Default Tech Privacy Settings To Change Now This article, written by Brian X. Chen of the New York Times, tells you how to turn off certain default tech privacy settings on Apple and Android phones, Google web services, Facebook,  Amazon’s websites and devices and Microsoft Windows. I’m going to change my settings right now. I’ve got my fingers crossed. We’ll see what happens. If you’ve got any more tech privacy tips, please share them in the Comments section below. The Default Tech Settings You Should Turn Off Right Away – The New York Times Find More Links You Can Really Use At HabiLinks Guide The internet is full of great resources, but page after page of search results […]

Read More +

Cloud Backup or Storage, What’s the Use?

Cloud backup or storage use

Thinking about using cloud backup or storage services, but confused about what “cloud” computing is? “Cloud computing” conjures up images like the one on the left. But it simply refers to accessing technology services offered by providers via the internet instead of buying and maintaining your own hardware or software.   Protect your data against these threats Years ago my daughter spilled an entire cup of coffee on her laptop. All of her photos were gone. I found a service to restore most of them to a CD and surprised her with it on Christmas morning. Her tears of joy were well worth the substantial amount of time and money spent. These days our computers are threatened by more than a cup of coffee. For example: Computer theft Computer failure Natural disasters like floods and earthquakes Ransomware, malware and hacker attacks Fire What to back up Take a look at the content on your computer. What data would you hate to lose? Everyone uses their devices differently, but here are the files I make sure to back up: Photos Music library Financial records and budget Emergency information Family history Travel info Household inventory Tax return copies Health records Contacts Business files Instructions for various […]

Read More +

Time to Refinance the Mortgage?

time to refinance the mortgage?

Deciding whether to refinance your mortgage is more than a matter of “rates are down let’s do it.” Unless you do the homework, refinancing can actually cost more in the long run. I refinanced in 2018. Rates have dropped, but in my case refinancing now doesn’t make sense. Here are some tips and links to help you decide if this is a good time to refinance your mortgage. And if it is, how to do it efficiently, saving both time and money. 1. Things to know before you start Mortgage terminology. Find definitions of key terms at consumerfinance.gov. Things to consider before refinancing. See the article at kiplinger.com. Warning: Do not click on ads offering “free” mortgage refinance calculators. See #2, below. How long you plan to stay in your home. Tip: If you plan to sell in one or two years, refinancing probably doesn’t make sense. Your current loan terms, monthly payment, balance and interest rate. Tip: Unless interest rates are at least half a percent less, refinancing probably isn’t worth the cost. Estimated value of your home. See zillow.com for a rough estimate based on similar homes nearby. Not totally reliable, but better than paying an appraiser at […]

Read More +

The Real ID: Do You Really Need it?

The new real ID deadline

  The government has changed the deadline for obtaining a Real ID from October 2021 to May 23, 2023. Meanwhile, you may have questions. What is The Real ID? Do I really need it? By when? How and when can I get it? If so, you’ve come to the right place for answers. What’s the Real ID? The Real ID is a state-issued driver’s license or identification card that meets increased federal security standards. Real ID’s have a star on the upper right corner. Starting May 23, 2023 travelers must provide a Real ID or other approved form of identification such as a valid passport to board domestic airlines, access certain Federal facilities or visit military installations. Who needs it? If you have a valid U.S. passport you don’t really need a Real ID, but I highly recommend having both. If you depend on your passport and accidentally let it expire or lose it, you’re in for an unpleasant surprise next time you try to board a commercial airline. Tip: If you plan to use your passport, make sure it’s valid for the duration of your trip. And check the expiration date way ahead in case it takes a long time to […]

Read More +

Change Clocks and Smoke Alarm Batteries Sunday

Change Your Clocks, Spring forward

In San Francisco we’re having a hard time believing that spring arrives soon! It seems like we haven’t seen the sun in months and rainfall records are broken almost every day. But the calendar doesn’t lie. And along with spring comes Daylight Saving Time. The only U.S. states that don’t change their clocks twice a year are Hawaii and Arizona. Here are a few timely tips (pun intended) to help get your spring off to a good start. Clocks “spring forward” one hour Sunday at 2 AM. Change the clocks before you go to bed Saturday night. Don’t forget your watches…including the ones you keep in the dresser drawer. Remember to change the clock on your car dashboard. While you’re at it, change the smoke alarm batteries. Replace the batteries in hard wired smoke alarms, too. The batteries in hard wired alarms provide backup in case of a power outage caused by things like fire or natural disasters. Check the year your smoke alarm was manufactured. It should be shown on the unit. If it’s close to ten years old, it’s time to replace it. Make sure you have the right kind of replacement batteries for your smoke alarms. And […]

Read More +

Learn How to Stop Robocalls and Texts

Stop robocalls and texts

Do you want to know how to stop robocalls and texts? Whether it’s a mobile phone or land line, you’ve probably answered a call that’s an unwanted sales pitch or recorded message. There are laws against unwanted calls and text messages, but marketers and scam artists find ways to get around the rules faster than they can be updated. What you should know about robocalls and texts Not all robocalls are illegal. For instance, market research or polling calls to home land lines are not restricted by FCC rules. Calls on behalf of non-profit groups and calls informing you of things like school closings or flight information are allowed without consent. With a few exceptions auto-dialed or prerecorded calls to wireless phones are prohibited without prior consent. Emergency calls regarding danger to life or safety are allowed. What you can do to limit or stop robocalls and texts Visit the FCC guide for the latest tips on how to stop unwanted robocalls and texts. Register with the U.S. government Do Not Call List. If the caller is a real person ask them to add you to their “do not call” list before hanging up. Don’t interact with robocalls. Hang up. […]

Read More +